Q&A with Director Jessica Kubzansky on A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Jessica Kubzansky directed this season’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare’s story of fairies, mischief, and finding love. Kubzansky is the Artistic Director of Boston Court Pasadena, where she developed and directed world premieres of Kit Steinkellner’s Ladies, Sarah B Mantell’s Everything That Never Happened, Luis Alfaro’s Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles, and more. She has also directed The Father at The Pasadena Playhouse, Othello at A Noise Within, and Hold These Truths at Arena Stage DC, among others. Awards include Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle’s Margaret Harford Award for Sustained Excellence in Theatre.
Kubzansky teaches graduate playwrights and directors at University of California, Los Angeles. She received a Master of Fine Arts in direction from the California Institute of the Arts after obtaining an undergraduate degree in creative writing from John Hopkins and Harvard University.
The Festival had the chance to visit with Kubzansky about her experience and process of directing this wonderful show.
The Festival: This play is such an audience favorite. As playgoers, what should we watch for that would help us enjoy it even more?
Kubzansky: I hope the journey the characters go on is that they move from a terribly rigid, rule-bound world in Athens where love is thwarted, to this magical adventure in the forest where strange and wondrous things happen. They discover freedom and true love in the course of their sojourn in the wood and come back to Athens enchanted and renewed, to a better sense of who they want to be, and what rules they no longer need for the kinder, better world they want to inhabit.
People should look for the fact that everyone is walking in straight lines and sharp corners in Athens, but when they come back, no one is walking that way anymore.
The Festival: What realization do you hope audience members leave with after seeing the play?
Kubzansky: I hope they’re walking away with a sense of joy and fulfillment, and see that true love– romantic, parental, friendship, and theatrical fulfillment– is spreading warmth and joy amongst everyone.
The Festival: Why should our patrons see this play?
Kubzansky: I had such an amazing cohort of artists who brought this production to life. The actors are splendid, the costumes are ridiculously gorgeous, the set is beautiful and inventive, the music and dance is rich, and the use of magic is delicious. Every element of the production is amazing.
The actors manage to capture both the high stakes of what’s happening and the brilliant comedy in [Shakespeare’s play] that comes from the difficulty of their given certain circumstances.
The Festival: What was your favorite part of directing A Midsummer Night’s Dream?
Kubzansky: I loved discovering the magic of this story for the first time. Much of my team had done Midsummer before, but I treated it like a new play because I hadn’t encountered it in a directorial way.
The Festival: What was your journey into theater?
Kubzansky: It started with creative writing. I would write and direct my own plays, and then I started directing other people’s plays. I found that directing was more immediately gratifying because it’s collaborative.
The Festival: Why do you enjoy directing?
Kubzansky: It’s my happy place. I love the intellectual challenge of solving a play like a puzzle and the emotional challenge of finding the heart of a play. I also love the opportunity to build in collaboration with so many great minds and hearts.
For more information on Kubzansky, visit her Performing Arts Center website bostoncourtpasadena.org.
To see A Midsummer Night’s Dream, go to bard.org or call 800-PLAYTIX. Don’t wait to purchase tickets, as it closes on September 9.